BusinessDay

Cabinet reshuffle: Buhari’s opportunity to engage technocrats – Experts

Ahead of the planned Cabinet reshuffle by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians have advised him to see it as an opportunity to revamp the ailing economy, through appointment of technocrats.

The need for an urgent injection of fresh blood in the cabinet became evident Friday as President Buhari held a valedictory meeting with nine of the ministers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja with Emeka Nwajiuba, former Minister of State, Education, who was the first to resign, absent with apologies.

Ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu; State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige ( who later on Friday made a volte face), were present at the event.

Others are the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah, the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen and the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Tayo Alasoadura.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina told BusinessDay Sunday in Abuja that the Ministers have until Monday, May 16th, 2022, to turn in their resignations.

“That is what is in the public domain. They were given up to Monday to resign, so they can either resign or decide to remain in office,” he said.

Economic experts believe that given the huge debt burden hovering around N40 trillion, power, security and unemployment challenges, this may be a last minute opportunity for the President to raise a team of economic experts to create “strong legacy for the outgoing government.”

Katchi Ononuju, a strong critic of Buhari’s administration, said Nigeria’s economic woes were recently compounded by de-listing of the country by global financial institution, JPMorgan, from its list of emerging market sovereign recommendations, over its fiscal woes.

According to him, “JPMorgan had hinged their decision on the grounds of insolvency, following failures by NNPC to transfer revenue to the government from January to March this year, due to petrol subsidies and low oil production

“They moved Nigeria out of the bank’s ‘overweight’ category, because the country has failed to take advantage of high oil prices.”

Ononuju, who also is a member of the PDP, said that Nigeria’s fiscal woes have worsened global risks.

“So, as you can see, there is nothing new in what the President is doing. I see this as a beginning to our taking over. The President has destroyed the economy. For the past ninety days, Nigeria did not remit revenue from oil sales to the economy. We no longer enjoy our credit line. They have removed Nigeria. He should be able to bring in Ministers who can restore confidence in the nation’s economic system,” he said.

Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Adetokumbo Kayode, said that “The Presidency is already a lame duck Presidency.”

He observed that “everybody is already looking towards the incoming presidency; everybody is looking towards the incoming administration.”

He urged President Buhari to look for people who will rescue the country and return it to the process of quick recovery by appointing “technocrats.”

Kayode, who also served as Minister of Culture and Tourism, under the Yar’Adua administration, advised the President to “engage strong hands” who are already knowledgeable in governance, adding that “this last one year should not be for experimentation, political compensation, or appointments of neophytes.”

“This is the last year in office and considering the challenges, we cannot continue to experiment,” he further said.

He also urged the Buhari administration to push the modular refineries issues beyond the current efforts, by waiving some of the payments.

“The government can encourage governments at the sub-national levels to come in and invest in building these refineries,” he said.

Read also: Cabinet reshuffle imminent as Buhari bids farewell to 10 ministers

Former Minister of Health Alphonsus Nwosu, decried the confusion in the polity, describing it as “unhealthy for the polity.”

He noted that the President has the prerogatives to appoint whoever he wishes into his cabinet.

“As far as I am concerned, he can only appoint who he can work with; so, he should go ahead. What has happened had never happened in the history of this country,” he said.

According to him, “Most ridiculous of them all is the case of Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. What that meant was that even the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), could have also entered the race.

“That he does not understand the implication of his actions is on its own baffling. The Chief Justice might as well have entered the race.”

The only female People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Oliver Tari Oba, who described the APC government and the Buhari administration as “confused,” added that “Nigerians are already fed up with them. They should just pack and go.”

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